The Karnataka High Court on Monday directed the State government to immediately provide security to Veerendra Patil, an advocate hailing from Talaguppa village in Soraba taluk of Shimoga district, who had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) petition complaining about the encroachment of about 400 acres of forest land.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice Aravind Kumar issued oral direction in this regard when Mr. Patil moved an application complaining that encroachers had attacked his family members and had caused extensive damage to their property on August 5.

He also complained that those who attacked them were provoked by the former Minister and Congress leader Kagodu Thimmappa and JD (S) leader Madhu Bangarappa. He accused Mr. Thimmappa and Mr. Bangarappa of helping the encroachers as they [encroachers] belong to their vote bank.

The High Court recently had disposed of the PIL plea after the authorities concerned had said that encroachers would be shifted from the forest land at Talaguppa. Mr. Patil had contented in his PIL plea that the forest land was illegally entered as revenue land by the tahsildar concerned in 2003 with the intention to benefit the encroachers.

In his Monday’s application, Mr. Patil complained that Mr. Thimmappa and Mr. Madhu Bangarappa had forced the district authorities to stop the eviction process that has commenced following the court direction.

“If something (untoward) happens, the Deputy Commissioner will be held responsible”, the Chief Justice told the government advocate while asking them to instruct the authorities concerned to provide protection to the petitioner.

Media freedom

The Bench on Monday observed orally that freedom of media is important and the court does not want to curtail it unless it is required.

“Freedom of the media is important. We do not want to curtail it unless it is required. All that we said was that when you know something connected to breach of peace is likely to happen, inform the police or the law enforcement authorities. We don’t think anybody has objections to this. You please do some brainstorming. Hold a workshop, confabulate…,” the Bench observed while hearing contempt of court petitions filed against two private Kannada television channel for allegedly telecasting serials on pending criminal cases.

Meanwhile, the Bench was informed that the city police had not leaked any sensitive information to the media on the murder of S.P. Mahanthesh, Deputy Director of Cooperative Audit. State Police Chief Lalrokhuma Pachau filed an affidavit in this regard following a clarification sought by the court earlier.

Train service

The State government on Monday filed a statement before the Bench seeking for a night train between Bangalore and Karwar via Mangalore-Udupi. “The existing tri-weekly Bangalore-Karwar day train is not helpful. It takes 15-16 hours and the journey is tedious and cumbersome. There are nearly 1,000 private luxury buses ply between these routes and it is a testimony for the demand,” government counsel submitted before the Bench.

These submissions were made during the hearing of a PIL plea filed by advocates Shankar Bhat and others.